What is the Business Improvement District (BID)?
A business improvement district is a geographically defined area within the City of Los Angeles, in which services, activities and programs are paid for through a special assessment agreed and paid for by all members within the district for local business enhancement. The Chatsworth BID area is formed by the businesses along Devonshire Street from Topanga Canyon Boulevard and Mason Avenue.
What is the BID Assessment?
A BID assessment is a fee that each business owner pays to support the operations of the BID. The sums of all the individual assessments that business owners pay comprise the yearly assessment of the BID and annual operating budget. The total yearly assessment is unique to each BID.
I already pay taxes! Why pay more for the BID?
Your general property and sales taxes pay for services that are distributed throughout the City and region. Unlike these general tax dollars, 98% of the BID assessments come back to the District for special projects and services that are enjoyed only by the District. In addition, the City of Los Angeles has a citywide policy that they will continue to provide BIDs with the same basic service as they provide to other business districts.
Reduced budgets and limited funding to support localized improvements in cities throughout California are a reality. By forming a BID, the business owners generate their own funding for maintenance and improvements and determine how the money is spent within the BID boundaries. All funding is returned to the area as determined by the Board of Directors, which puts business owners in the driver's seat when it comes to improving a merchant area.
What does the BID assessment pay for?
In a Business Improvement District, a special assessment pays for programs and services, which are tailored to the area defined by representatives of the BID. A variety of activities and improvements are authorized for BIDs and defined by state law. Collectively, these services, activities and programs are referred to as "improvements.” The Chatsworth BID
What programs and services the BID provides?
The BID finances services that are over and above the basic services provided by local government. The Chatsworth BID provides these in the following project areas identified as needs by the stakeholders and board: Beautification, Community Involvement, Marketing and Security.
What is the City's role in providing these improvements?
The City's primary role is to exercise its municipal authority to levy the assessment on behalf of the BID community. By having the City assess all affected parties, the BID receives funds from everyone benefiting from the improvements. The City is also authorized to audit or otherwise review the financial condition of the BID. In this way, the City assists the BID membership with oversight and review so that the special assessment is used according to the intentions of the business community. The assessment money is collected by the City or by the County through a special contractual arrangement with the city. Because the assessment funds collected in a given district cannot legally be spent outside of that BID, the City creates a trust fund for each BID, with funds periodically released to support operations. Its operations are run by a community elected Board of Directors with oversight by an Advisory Board appointed by the local Council office. Each year the BID is renewable at the discretion of the Los Angeles City Council.
Will city services be reduced if the BID is providing similar services?
No. The services provided by the BID are supplemental to the services provided to the district by the City. The City must maintain a baseline level of service to all areas regardless of the presence of a BID.
Who oversees the BID?
A Board of Directors that is elected by the members of the district governs each BID. The Board of Directors has a fiduciary responsibility to the BID and hires the management that administers the BID on a day-to-day basis. The BID's Board of Directors may choose to hire staff, an independent consultant or other entities to administer the BID. Generally, the programs to be provided by a BID are initially determined by the community and are selected based on community needs and desires. The process of determining community needs and desires typically involves stakeholder meetings and the development of questionnaires, which are mailed to all business or business owners in the proposed district. Focus groups and telephone surveys are also frequently used to determine community priorities.
What are the advantages to forming a BID?
BIDs provide individual communities a way to have a direct voice regarding the economic activity in their area and exercise considerable control. There are several advantages to forming a BID:
• A cleaner, safer and more attractive business district
• A steady and reliable funding source for supplemental services and programs
• The ability to quickly respond to the changing needs of the business community
• The potential to increase property values, improve sales and decrease commercial vacancy rates.
• A district that is better able to compete with nearby retail and business centers.
Is Chatsworth unique in having a BID?
No. BIDs exist throughout the United States and Canada, as well as South Africa (21), Brazil (2), Albania (2) and Serbia (2). New York has the most BIDs (45+), with Toronto being second (40+) and Los Angeles coming in third (30+). Worldwide, there are approximately 800 BIDs in 6 countries. The United States has 429+ and Canada has 340+. There are more than 70 BIDs in California, including more than 30 in Los Angeles business districts alone. More and more, BIDs are viewed as an effective tool to help business districts compete in an increasingly challenging market.
The idea of paying for special benefits as a form of local economic development in California is generally based on a state statute known as "The Parking and Business Improvement Area Law of 1965." This statute expanded on earlier assessment legislation designed to provide for public improvements such as street lights and provided the framework for later models. Currently in California and in the City of Los Angeles, the establishment of business improvement districts is authorized by two state laws.
What if a BID is formed and does not live up to members' expectations?
The state laws regarding both merchant and property based business improvement districts contain provisions for identifying the components of the BID including boundaries, improvements or activities provided, and other elements. In addition, both laws do allow for the disestablishment of the district under certain conditions. BIDs are not permanent institutions.
How can I get involved?
There are a number of ways you can get involved. As a stakeholder, you can participate in our monthly board meetings that take place on the second Monday of every month at 11:30 a.m. at the Community Room at Chatsworth Train Depot. If you are interested in becoming a elected Board member, elections are held in October/November each year. We also have various committees we form for specific efforts that you can join. Check our Web site or attend board meetings for information about these committees.
Uniting and Igniting Business Growth in Chatsworth.
The Chatsworth Business Improvement District (BID) was cooperatively and collectively formed in 1999 by like-minded business owners on Devonshire Street who envision a thriving community center of businesses and services for its residents. Understanding the reality of reduced budgets and limited funding from the City to improve our area, we took matters into our own hands. In forming a Business Improvement District, our businesses impose a self-assessed fee that is pooled to fund projects designed to enhance, improve and grow our businesses and community. Our funds are controlled by our stakeholders/members and spent decidedly towards three areas: Security, Beautification and Marketing.
We encourage all stakeholders to get involved and voice opinion and ideas where monies should be spent to improve our business community. You can do this in a variety of ways including attend monthly board meetings (second Monday of each month) and participate in surveys and focus groups held. Together we will stimulate economic growth for our businesses and community.
There are many opportunities to participate in.
As a Stakeholder, your input and participation is always welcome. Hoping to see you at the next meeting.